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Inactive Members

Personal Statement of Pension Benefits

A Personal Statement of Pension Benefits is produced for all inactive members each fall. The purpose of this statement is to provide you with an opportunity to verify your records and use the information for retirement planning.

The 2011 inactive member statements are available online by going to MyTRA Login.

This statement contains detailed information about your member account and provides you with your beginning and ending service credit and contribution balance, an explanation of any adjustments that were made during the fiscal year (July 1 through June 30), and an estimate of the refund value of your account.

Estimates shown are calculated based on current law and are for informational purposes only.  Current laws are subject to future legislative changes. Final benefit calculations will be made using your official record on file with TRA and the applicable law.  TRA reserves the right to correct your record at any time before and after your retirement.

A description of benefits is also included to help members better understand the benefits available through TRA.

Important information about deferred benefit estimates – TRA’s funding condition was weakened due to substantial investment losses incurred during 2008 and early 2009. Legislation passed during the 2010 legislative session changed plan provisions affecting all TRA benefit recipients, members and employer units. The goal of these changes is to strengthen and sustain the TRA pension system over the long term. One of the provisions affects members who are not currently teaching (inactive), who have left their contributions with TRA and who are deferring receipt of their monthly annuity benefit. The legislation lowered the deferral interest rate to 2.0 percent beginning July 1, 2012. Therefore, deferred estimates provided on the statement may differ from estimates provided in previous years.

Each statement is unique for the member's specific situation. Therefore, the sample statement shown below may not show all of the information you will receive in your statement. The information shown on the sample statement have been altered and is not meant to represent actual data for estimate purposes.

2011 Inactive Member Personal Statement of Pension Benefits (SAMPLE)

Leave status confirmation

If you were on a leave during the school year, a leave type should be listed on your statement of benefits. If you were on leave and it is not indicated, please let us know.

You may be eligible to purchase retirement service credit by making a lump sum payment to the fund. Your right to pay for an authorized leave is contingent upon proper reporting by your district. If your leave has been reported correctly, and if it is a type of leave that can be paid, you would have received correspondence from us regarding payment. (Leave overview)

You are not eligible to apply for a refund or a monthly retirement benefit while on leave unless you resign.

Refund of contributions

If you are no longer teaching, you may choose to receive a refund of your employee contributions, plus interest. Prior to July 1, 2011, interest is compounded annually at a rate of 6 percent (5 percent interest if you have not taught since May 15, 1989). Beginning July 1, 2011, an interest rate of 4 percent compounded annually will be applied.

You are not eligible for a refund if you are on a leave of absence (except an unrequested leave), if you are employed during summer school or if you have signed a contract with a TRA-covered employer for the next school year. Application for a refund may be made as soon as 30 days after the termination of your teaching service.

A lifetime annuity may have greater value to you than a refund. You may be eligible for a monthly annuity at age 55, depending on the number of years you contributed to TRA. The number of years required (referred to as vesting) depends on the laws that were in place at the time you last taught. If your TRA-covered service terminated after May 15, 1989, you need three years of service credit to qualify for a monthly annuity.

Six annuity plan options

When you apply for retirement, you select one of six annuity plans that provides a monthly benefit for your life. The amount payable under each plan varies depending on the amount of beneficiary or survivor protection you choose. If you qualify for a retirement annuity and wish to receive more information about the six annuity plan options provided by TRA, please call us at 800-657-3669 or 651-296-2409.

The information will assist you in determining which plan option most effectively meets your needs taking into consideration survivor coverage, your individual sources of income and the amount payable under each option.

Surviving spouse as beneficiary

Under present law, a surviving spouse has precedence over any other beneficiary (regardless of anyone you may have listed on your beneficiary form) unless you and your spouse agree in writing to make a joint specification on our Nonspousal Beneficiary Designation form (TRA-2300). It states that upon your death, a benefit must be paid to a designated beneficiary other than your spouse. You do not need to fill out this form if you want your spouse to be your beneficiary.

If you do not have a spouse or dependent children, and you have not designated a beneficiary, payment will be made to your estate. If this is unacceptable, please request a beneficiary form from our office, or log on to your online member account and print a copy of the appropriate form. If you are not sure who is listed as your beneficiary, you may call or write our office to inquire. For security reasons, we do not release beneficiary information over the telephone; however, we will mail a copy of your beneficiary designation to you.

Distribution required by IRS

A minimum distribution must be taken from your tax-deferred retirement accounts at age 70 ½, according to IRS rules. This rule includes your TRA retirement account if you are not currently employed as a public employee in the state of Minnesota. These required minimum distributions must begin by April 1 of the year following the calendar year you reach age 70 ½. When you are nearing or over age 70, we encourage you to review your entire portfolio of tax-deferred investments with a qualified tax consultant to ensure your IRS compliance.

Benefit improvement eligibility rule

A TRA member who has been inactive due to termination must earn at least 85 full days of credited service following return to TRA-covered service to be eligible for improved benefits resulting from a law change enacted after that termination.

In general, the requirement means that 1) if you quit teaching before a benefit improvement is enacted and 2) return to covered service after July 1, 1995, you must work a minimum of 85 full days to become eligible for the benefit improvement.

This benefit improvement eligibility requirement also applies to the Duluth and St. Paul teachers retirement funds and members of the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) and the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).

Combined public service pension available

A combined service annuity is a retirement benefit based upon allowable service earned in two or more Minnesota public retirement systems.

It is designed to provide you with retirement benefits similar to someone whose entire career was covered by a single public pension fund. If your combined service meets the applicable vesting requirements at retirement, you may elect a combined service annuity from each system in which you have at least six months of allowable service. Application for benefits from all of the Minnesota public retirement systems and the effective dates of retirement with each system under which you choose to receive an annuity must occur within a one-year period.

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